One special breed, unique to Hoover’s, is the Prairie Bluebell Egger™.
As well as having a whimsical name, the hens of this breed produce LARGE, bright blue eggs. It has been my pleasure to have owned several of these PBEs over the last few years. They are always a staple on our farm, and help fill the egg basket with dependable color.
According to Hoover’s Hatchery, the lineage of the Prairie Bluebell Egger™ comes from crossing White Leghorn and Araucanas. The first reported blue egg layer came from South America in the early 1900’s. From this, the true breed of Araucanas was created. They possess a compound called oocyanin, which is deposited over a white eggshell, early on in the egg production process. These birds were very popular, but carried a genetic defect that would cause a large portion of the eggs to not survive until hatch day. By creating the new breed, Ameraucana, breeders were able to diminish the likelihood of early death in eggs, and the Ameraucanas were fresh on the scene!
Many other breeds have been mixed with the Ameraucanas to further perfect the quality and size of blue eggs. Since Prairie Bluebell Eggers™ are crossed with leghorns, they are small, dainty birds. In overall appearance, they share a similar shape. Small birds with tall, fan-like tails that are very fast and can usually fly quite well. Some birds will have fluffy cheeks, but this has mostly been lost. PBEs have small heads with rose combs.
Colors can vary as much as the rainbow! I’ve seen them all, from jet black to gray, from gold laced to silver and black; each is unique! You never quite know what colors your chicks are going to become! That is part of the chicken raising fun! They very often have very intricate lacing and patterns on their feathers. Most will have white ear lobes, an indicator they will lay blue eggs.
Another common thread in the PBE breed is intelligence. Every PBE I’ve ever owned was super smart, so much so, that we even have one named Smarty! PBEs rely on their leghorn linage to keep themselves alert and out of harm’s way. They are not lazy chickens, but instead are always looking over their shoulder. This makes them excellent free rangers. They have a high rate of survivability in a mixed flock. They can still be friendly and come up to you for snacks, but definitely have a streak of self preservation!